Participants in a charity golf tournament on April 17 got a special thrill as Dana Bowman, a member of Team Fastrax, America’s Skydiving Team, parachuted into the Lansdowne Resort golf course with an American flag.
Bowman, a retired Special Forces soldier and former member of the U.S. Army’s elite parachute team, the Golden Knights, has gained renown as a double amputee who continues to perform at high-profile events.
At 8:45 a.m. on Friday, April 17, Bowman flew into the Lansdowne Resort and landed on the driving range as part of the “Fore Our Troops” charity golf tournament.
Bowman descended from the sky on a special parachute bearing the logo of the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, a leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to rebuilding the lives of severely wounded veterans of the global war on terror. The Lansdowne golf tournament is a fundraiser for the veterans group.
“I’ve been extremely impressed by the life-changing work done by the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes over the years,” said Bowman. “That’s why I wanted to fly their colors and bring more awareness to the organization and to the thousands of brave men and women that benefit from the emergency aid and other critical services they provide.”
On February 6, 1994, Bowman gained worldwide attention when he and his Golden Knights teammate, Sgt. Jose Aguillon, collided in midair during the team’s annual training. Bowman and Aguillon were practicing a maneuver known as the Diamond Track. The maneuver calls for the jumpers to streak away from each other for about a mile and then turn 180 degrees and fly back toward each other crisscrossing in the sky.
Bowman and Aguillon had demonstrated the Diamond Track more than 50 times without incident. But this time was different. Rather than crisscrossing, the two skydivers slammed into each other at a combined speed of 300 miles per hour. Aguillon died instantly. Bowman’s legs were severed from his body, one above the knee and one below. Bowman’s parachute opened on impact. He was taken to a hospital in Phoenix where doctors closed his leg wounds and stopped his internal bleeding.
Nine months later, Bowman turned this tragedy into a triumph when he became the first double amputee to re-enlist in the United States Army. He later became the U.S. Parachute Team’s lead speaker and recruiting commander.
“During my tenure at the Coalition, I’ve met hundreds of inspirational men and women who have overcome adversity and gone on to be a beacon of light to their fellow veterans,” said David Walker, president and CEO of the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes. “Dana has to be at the top of that list. He is truly an extraordinary man, and we are so proud that he took the time to parachute into our golf tournament today.”
For more information on the Coalition, and to learn how you can support its mission, visit saluteheroes.org.